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the zoning board said OK, so...

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by riverastoasters, Jun 15, 2005.

  1. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    I get to build a recording studio. We have pretty much come up with the design and all, but there is one issue left.

    What console to get?

    At the moment I'm leaning toward Neve 88R (and that is what the control room is designed around at the moment, but everything is still on paper), but a producer I trust a lot seems to think that the newer API stuff could be better. We're going to go around and mix on stuff and audition it. Apparently this means going to Tennessee.

    Any suggestions of stuff to audition? We're all allergic to SSL, so no SSL. We also don't want to burn that much power. We really think 48 channels is the minimum, and 64 is plenty.
     
  2. tms13pin

    tms13pin Supporting Member

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    Can you provide some more info on your intended
    configuration? Digi only? Analog and digi? Console budget?

    --Tom
     
  3. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    Probably analog console with good automation - I want to be able to work by myself a lot of the time. Budget up to about $600K. The thing better sound like freakin God.
     
  4. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    That is way outta my league, but wanted to say - props man. You are living my dream.
     
  5. tms13pin

    tms13pin Supporting Member

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    Well, if you can afford the Neve, more power to you, go for
    it!

    Allergic to SSL? Yeah, they're kind of their own entity but
    really an industry standard. Easy for other engineers to come
    in and work as many folks have experience on them.

    I'm a few years removed from serious console shopping (moved
    from a university with a nice budget for gear, Middle Tennessee
    State, to one with almost no budget for gear, Carnegie Mellon,
    about 7 years ago). At the time we were looking at MTSU,
    I was really impressed with the Euphonix stuff. They were
    control surfaces that controlled an all-analog signal path. Not
    in wide use though, but I really liked what they had to offer.

    MTSU ultimately decided on the Studer configurable worksurface
    for that purchase (we already had a SSL in one of the studios).
    AMEK had some nice stuff too, and one of their consoles had a
    lot of consultation from Neve himself.

    Here at Carnegie Mellon we're all Pro-Tools (in spite of my
    push to have both analog and digi), so we're just using the
    Control 24.

    Have fun shopping though, I wish I were in your shoes!

    --Tom
     
  6. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    Well keep dreaming, man. It took me thirty years to get to this point, and it's still about a year or maybe two away from cutting tracks.

    Now if I only had a little more talent.
     
  7. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    I hear what you say about the euphonix. I want to listen to one of those. But I think my buddy the producer is not a big fan of that. He's lobbying for API, and he's way allergic to SSL.

    The other problem with SSL is that the power consumption is insane on those. Same problem with AMEK. You want to know what the price of electricity is going to be over the next ten years? Hint: crude oil is at $56 a barrel today. We are going with a low energy philosophy except where it would compromise sound. But the high level of insulation of the building means that we might not have to heat or cool the thing that much except for the console.

    The Neve 88R uses about a third of the electricity of the other "big boy" analog desks. And to _my_ ears it sounds great. My producer buddy thinks it sounds "really good" by which he means "not as good as old Neve or maybe API".

    I have about six months to a year to make up my mind.
     
  8. Red Ant

    Red Ant Member

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    With the kind of budget you're talking about, why not a vintage Neve? You can easily get an 8068 or an 8078 with Flying Faders installed for that kind of $$$ - the 88R is a nice sounding modern console, but NOTHING comes close to an 8078 when it comes to great open sound and pristine signal path. And having a 1083 eq on every channel means you have no need to spend any $ on outboard EQ :)
     
  9. Red Ant

    Red Ant Member

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    Interesting. The last time i worked on the 88R (at The Village Recorder) I noticed how incredibly HOT the console surface got - not sure how it correlates to the power consumption though. I've used the API Legacy stuff and they sound REALLY good, but ergonomically they are NOT so hot. For me, at least. I'm also allergic to SSL, even though when i was coming up as an engineer/mixer you HAD to work on them, if you wanted to work. That said, i've always preferred SSL automation to Neve, especially once SSL went to moving faders. These days i do ALL my automation in ProTools, so its not a factor for me anymore - to me an 8078 is THE ideal front end for a good ProTools rig ;)
     
  10. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    Well yeah there are various plots afoot to get hold of 8078 or 8068. My favorite desk is two 8068s glued together.

    The thing I've seen with that desk, though, over twenty years of watching the guys that own an 8068, is the maintenance issue.

    We've had engineering specs of the power consumption of the 88R and it's pretty low. Together with the HVAC design of the control room, this should spell low maintenance. Which is a big deal for me.

    An NOS 80x8 would be a no brainer for us. But getting an existing used 80x8 into the same shape the 88R is in and maintaining it that way could make the 80x8 more expensive.

    To some extent, I want a great sounding board that will leave me to make music.
     
  11. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    How did they have the HVAC set up? We are working with a good designer whose rooms are, as far as we know, all very well and quietly cooled. So we assume that if the HVAC is up to snuff, then it's just the power dissipated by the board.
     
  12. tonedaddy

    tonedaddy Member

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    You may want to dig a little deeper to make sure your future electricity price fears are justified.

    Do you have any idea how little electricity is produced by petroluem fired plants?

    For the last year I can find (2003), it was 3.8% nationwide.

    For your rates to increase substatially due to high oil prices, you would have to be served by one of the VERY few utilities that are substantially sourced by petroleum.

    You can examine your state's electricity profile (2002 is the latest data for my state) here:
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/st_profiles/e_profiles_sum.html

    You can track the petroleum-fired energy production down to the megawatt. For instance in my state, North Carolina, the total megawatt hours for petroleum production was 447, out of a combined source total of 26,674.

    That's just 1.7%.

    The average national retail price of electricity is near what it was in the early 1970's, (before the oil shocks of that decade), and about 1/3 less than their historical highs in the early 1980s.

    If your electricity prices go up now and over the next 10 years, and anyone (including your utility company) tells you it's because of high oil prices, I'd be asking for more answers. For instance, my utility company is primarily nuclear and coal sourced (and my rate is 7.0 cents/kwh). I expect my utility rates to increase marginally over the next 10 years, regardless of oil prices (even including any increased transportation costs due to higher oil prices).

    Two more things:

    - utility rates are regulated by state utility commissions, which are required to provide only a reasonable rate of return to the utility companies, so any price increases due to increased costst will have to pass the commission's scrutiny (all of those records should be public, BTW).

    - Your state utility commission may be committed to restructuring, and you may be on track to purchase your electricity from any utility company in the national grid. You can monitor your state's progress to restructuring (if any) here:
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/page/restructure.html


    I'm not saying energy costs are not in important part of any business budget. I'm also not saying you'll be able to afford to drive to a commercial studio in 10 years (another benefit of the home studio!).
    :D

    I'm just saying you may be able to broaden the scope of your console evaluations if it turns out your electricity price increase fears may not be realized.

    And big congrats on your opportunity to go forward with your studio plans. Looking forward to more posts about your journey!
     
  13. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    Actually right now our electricity here is from windmills a little bit upstate. We have the option to do that, and we do. But the rate at which wind can grow is low.

    The reason oil prices (and natural gas prices) are a big deal here is that there's a lot of generating that's coal. But that doesn't handle the increase in demand - that stuff on the margin is all gas (and used to be more oil).

    Here in the US, nuclear is basically a no-go for the foreseeable future. That leaves coal. And although we really don't want to do that, we're probably going to do that.

    The problem with coal is that to burn it clean, you have to do a lot of stuff that is going to make it more expensive. In particular more expensive than oil or gas. Otherwise a lot of coal plants would be springing up.

    So the marginal cost of additional energy production is linked to oil and gas prices. (Remember when Enron was killing California by controlling a relatively small fraction of the country's generating capacity? They started out as a natural gas pipeline company).

    So yeah most of the electricity will still be coal. But the additional electricity demand will not be met by clean coal for some pretty long time, and when it is met by clean coal, it will be as expensive as oil and gas _then_ (it's way more expensive now). So you can use gas and oil prices as a lower bound for how bad the electrical picture will be. Even if you, like me, get your electricity from wind or hydro, or nuclear, etc.

    Going by memory (we have a detailed schedule buried in the plans and I could check it if we really need to) the 88R needs about 5kW. And that's also 5kW that have to be removed as heat from the control room, so you have to figure in the extra HVAC. At the end of the day, one number I remember is that turning on the whole studio ended up being just about 25kW. The SSL, on the other hand, was about three times as much. So for that extra 10kW you figure another 2 kW more cooling (leaving aside the very real problem that we would have had to resize the isolation transformer and landed in another service category with the utility company). Now this service around here starts at 14 cents/kWhr; which is about $1.62 per hour for the SSL over the Neve. Assuming we don't turn the thing on and off, (which is the normal practice) then that comes to $14,000 a year for the SSL at today's electricity prices. If over the next ten years that price doubles, then that's $210,000 extra for the SSL over the Neve. (Of course, SSL already wants more for their desk, and I want one less than I want a Neve, but for purposes of how the electricity price comes into this it's worth considering the other comparable desk).

    An old Neve would have a similar disadvantage to the 88R as far as the numbers we were able to get would indicate.

    Now if this were a commercial studio, we can justify the expenditure pretty easily if we can justify a studio at all. That's why many commercial studios aren't going to bother with this sort of analysis. On the other hand, our designer said he was really interested to have learned all the energy efficiency stuff on our project because he has another client who is be energy and environmentally conscious. So it's not _only_ me.

    But the bottom line is that this is my private studio and I don't feel like blowing an extra few hundred thousand dollars on the console just for electricity.
     
  14. tonedaddy

    tonedaddy Member

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    I agree most of your facts, but not your generalized (national) conclusions. Even under your scenario, the increase in electricity prices will be controlled more by the increased demand for electricity, than any potential increase in oil and gas prices.

    First, domestic natural gas production meets nearly 85% of domestic natural gas demand (compared to less than 40% of domestic oil consumption being sourced domestically), and we have 75 years worth of proven reserves. Natural gas demand increases could lower the number of years available, but that can be mitigated by opening up exploration to federally controlled lands and offshore sites.

    Assuming output can't be increased from existing production facilities (not always the case, but let's assume that), and production increases come from coal and natural gas, then only marginal production increases will be at higher coal costs (the cost of existing production would not necessarily be higher). To achieve a doubling in electricity rates on the weighted average of production would mean scenarios such as:

    100% increase in demand and cost increases for marginal production of 200%

    As in:

    current demand at 100 units of production x .07/kwh = 7.00
    inceased demand at 100 units of production x .21/kwh = 21.00

    Total costs = 28.00
    Divide by all production= 28.00/200 = .14 rates

    Anything less than a 100% increase demand would require even HIGHER marginal costs of production, as increased demand and marginal costs would have to be inversely proportional to achieve a doubling of costs (in a weighted average)

    As in:
    current demand at 100 units of production x .07/kwh = 7.00
    inceased demand at 50 units of production x .42/kwh = 21.00
    Total costs = 28.00

    Mitigating that even further, actual demand for electricity has increased over the last 20 years at a rate of 2.7% annually.

    Which puts the more likely scenario at:

    current demand at 100 units of production x .07/kwh = 7.00
    inceased demand at 34 units of production x .62/kwh = 21.00
    Total costs = 28.00

    So your scenarior requires a nearly 10 fold increase in marginal production costs over 10 years to .62/kwh to achieve a doubling of electricity costs.

    In addition, demand for electricity has increased at 2.7% annually for the past 20 years, and prices have decreased by about a third.

    What sources were used to achieve those production increases?

    Actually 2 sources:
    - Increased production efficiency at nuclear plants rose from about 60% to 90%.
    - Natural gas fueled plants coming online.

    And don't count nuclear power out.

    There are three current applications under way for new nuclear Early Site Permits, all proposed as additions to existing nuclear plant sites which were spec'd for more than existing capacity (something common to most nuclear plant sites in the U.S.).

    All of these applications are under new National Energy Policy government/industry cost-sharing efforts to promote advanced nuclear plant technologies and navigate licensing requirements to bring at least one new nuclear plants online ASAP (and certainly more than one is the long term goal).


    So again, I believe the issue of increasing electricity costs is specific to your own utility, and its ability to meet local demand increases.

    While California was rocked by electricty cost spikes, much of the rest of the nation was untouched. My electricity rates have gone down over the past 20 years, and haven't budged over the past 5 years while I understand some California customers saw 50% rate increases.

    My only point is that your estimate of doubling electric rates is FAR from a national consensus.

    If you live in California, all bets are off.
    :D


    As your post shows, if a certain piece of equipment simply increases your electricity consumption to the point of making it an unattractive choice, you don't even need to factor in electricity price increases to make your decision.

    Now we just need affordable technologies to turn console heat into usable energy!
    :)
     
  15. Bassomatic

    Bassomatic Silver Supporting Member

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    What's the end goal of the facility? Strictly private? A few vanity projects? A Prince-like deluge of releases? A blend of inside/outside projects? I've done some engineering for a decent private studio locally, but the budget was less than a quarter of your own, and the studio quickly became the hub for a small label owned by the same cat. (He went with The Sony 'baby oxford' - the 25k-ish one - and a bunch of really nice outboard from Manley, etc.).

    Just trying to get a handle on the vision/thinking here, as this is not a common scenario for the non-rockstar type.
     
  16. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    Pretty much. I have some friends. We're not going to make the place available for rent. I also have a small label (concentrating on quality as opposed to commerciality) but that is a separate endeavor and usually we produce those projects where the band and producer are most comfortable.

    I play. It's been more or less twenty years of not being able to play seriously though, plus, I've been learning other instruments and stuff. But I have some stuff I want to do.

    As to recording, I'm interested in audio; I have serious chops in signal processing (digital and otherwise). The signal processing stuff is what pays for the studio at this point.

    I sort of think that the music _business_ is going further and further away from the idea that quality music is the object. And that's OK for them. I on th other hand am a lot more interested in realizing the beauty possible in the art form of recorded music of all kinds.
     
  17. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    Your focus on domestic production and consumption is one thing, but these guys are another thing altogether:

    "India Will Be More Dependent On Energy Imports In The Future..." (http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/archives/india/indiach2.htm)

    "China's 10th Five Year Plan has set the target of increasing the share of hydroelectric, natural gas, nuclear, and other clean fuels in the total power generation mix from the current 26% to 31%. " (http://www.cslforum.org/china.htm)

    If anything like Kyoto protocol ever goes near China or India, we're looking at quite exciting gas prices on top of the exciting oil prices. We've already seen what the domestic gas industry is willing to do when the opportunity presents itself.

    Until we sort out some sort of nuclear option, electricity could get kind of spendy in the near future.
     
  18. Bassomatic

    Bassomatic Silver Supporting Member

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    More power too you. I'd probably do the same thing if i had the skrill, but i'm crazy like that, too.
     
  19. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    A cogeneration retrofit....

    But seriously, we didn't want an SSL anyway. The thing about the electric consumption is that it also puts the squeeze on the vintage Neve 80x8 idea, which we would want. That with the maintenance is the main reason we don't just go out and get one of those. We still might at the end of the day. But I'm sort of hoping for something with automation that doesn't require a 25 year old computer.
     
  20. TAVD

    TAVD Guitar Player Gold Supporting Member

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    I think I read somewhere that the US was lifting restrictions and freeing $ to promote the construction of new nuclear power plants. That would make the first new plants 10 years away.

    If I had that budget, I'd recreate Ladyland, circa 1970.
     

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